Poll Says Most Israelis Oppose PLO Talks, Palestinians Targeted
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A poll published today said 56 percent of Israelis oppose any peace talks with the PLO. Arab sources said Palestinian moderates have been threatened with death if they continue talking with Israelis.
The poll by the independent polling group Modain Ezrachi, published in the daily Maariv newspaper, contrasted with findings of a survey published in December by Dahaf Institute, which is also independent.
The earlier poll said 54 percent of Israelis favored talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization if it dropped terrorist operations against Israel.
The new poll of 1,251 randomly selected Israelis dropped any reference to ending terrorism and found 56 percent said ″no″ when asked: ″Do you believe there is room for negotiations with the PLO and if so, towards what end?″
Rachel Israeli of Modain Ezrachi said the reason for the swing of opinion was because the new survey simply asked about talks without the question of terrorism. ″Many people do not believe the PLO has stopped their terror activities,″ she said.
In the new poll, 8 percent favored talks with the PLO on an independent state in the occupied lands, 17 percent endorsed talks aimed at establishing a state in Jordan, 12 percent endorsed talks on autonomy for Palestinians, and 7 percent said Israel should talk to the PLO on other issues.
The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percent.
PLO chief Yasser Arafat declared in December that his group was renouncing terrorism and recognizing Israel’s right to exist. The statements led the United States to begin a dialogue with the PLO.
Israel refuses to talk to the PLO, saying it is a terrorist organization.
In the West Bank town of Nablus, Palestinian sources said at least seven Palestinian moderates have been threatened with death if they continue exploratory talks with Israelis.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that on March 17, two masked Arab youths claiming to represent the Syrian-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine visited the moderates and gave what they called a ″last warning.″
The moderates, most of them Arafat supporters, were told to halt meetings with Israelis and foreign delegations.
The Popular Front, a Marxist PLO faction, is opposed to concessions Arafat has made in a bid to start peace negotiations.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was quoted today as saying in an interview with the Maariv newspaper that he still believes there are non-PLO Palestinians available for negotiations with Israel.
″There can be leaders in the (occupied) territories who are not connected with the PLO. There are among them wise people, intellectuals, but I am not going to reveal their names because it may bring them harm,″ said Shamir.
Shamir vowed to continue a secret dialogue with Palestinians before his trip to Washington in early April. He was quoted as saying he would present to the Bush administration ″things which perhaps have not been heard from me before.″ He gave no details.
Also today, two Palestinians died of wounds sustained earlier, raising to 407 the number killed since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied lands began in December 1987. Eighteen Israelis have been killed.